Top five pollutants in conventional liquid detergents

contaminantes en detergentes

Today on the Biobel blog we are going to discuss five pollutant ingredients found in liquid detergents. You should not only avoid using cleaning products containing them, but also cosmetics and food products; yes, some of them can even be found in our food!

Do you recall those television advertisements showing a young woman in a meadow hanging bright white sheets out to dry from which one could seemingly catch a scent of wildflowers? Well, we regret to tell you that the perfume and the sheet’s whiteness are by no means natural, and they do serious harm to your hormones and the environment.

1. Sodium Laureth Sulphate

The first pollutant we wish to discuss is one of the most widely known, sulphates. Above all, Sodium Laureth sulphate.

It is not only found in laundry detergents, but also in shampoos and shower gels, even those for babies. It is almost always accompanied by the statement ‘no more tears’. This is because its elder brother, Sodium Lauryl sulphate, is highly irritating for the eyes, while Sodium Laureth sulphate is not and is much milder on the skin, which is why it is used in liquid detergents for sensitive skins.

However, aside from being milder on the skin, the difference between the words – the latter’s -eth – means that this ingredient has undergone a process of ethoxylation using ethylene oxide.

Ethylene oxide has been proven to be an endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. Indeed, its use as an ingredient in cosmetics is prohibited, but traces of it are permitted.

If you identify which of your beauty and household cleaning products contain ethoxylated ingredients one can’t help but ask, how many traces of a proven carcinogen are needed for it to become an ingredient?

And if you don’t know which of your household products are ethoxylated you only have to look for those that end in -eth (oleth, pareth, mireth, laureth, ceteareth…) and those that have the initials PEG or PPG followed by a number. Sometimes PEG is replaced by the word: polyethylene or some derivative of it.

As a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has catalogued this ingredient as a Group 1 demonstrated carcinogen for humans..

Another toxic substance that contains this ingredient is 1,4-Dioxane, which is an ethoxylation by-product and it is present in the majority of detergents with this ingredient. Other pollutants associated with these ethoxylated ingredients are formaldehyde, nitrosamines and phthalates.

2. Isothiazolinones

Kathon is a preservative produced from a combination of two isothiazolinones. It is primarily used in the cosmetic industry at concentrations of 3-15 ppm and also in household cleaning products.

It is a major sensitizer that can be found in domestic and professional spaces, and it can give rise to cases of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), principally affecting the face and the back of the hands.

3. Optical brighteners

Another concerning class of ingredients, above all at an environmental level, are optical brighteners.

Over time and with protracted use white fabrics tend to become discoloured. Optical brighteners, as vaunted by the detergents advertised on television, are nothing more nor less than residues that adhere to the fibres of your garments and reflect light, thus making the fabric seem whiter.

It is not that the product has eliminated the discolouring, they have just covered the fabric with particles that reflect the light and make the fabric appear whiter. As a result, these chemicals remain in our white garments and are thus in permanent contact with our skin.

The problem is that they are highly toxic and non-biodegradable, whereby they remain in the environment for a long time.

In fact, if we could see the detergent under ultraviolet light, it would appear to be fluorescent.

To achieve this fluorescence a large quantity of ingredients is needed, such as imidiazolines, such as benzoxazoline and bisphenol-stilbene, just to cite some of the more toxic ones

4. EDTA or ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid

This is a chelating agent found in many products, ranging from cosmetics to detergents as well as food preservatives classified as E- 385. Its limited biodegradability, as well as its adverse health effects, has led to it being prohibited for products applying for the European Union label for environmental excellence, Ecolabel.

And not without reason, considering that 33% of detergents have this ingredient  33% of detergents have this ingredient  which does so much harm our natural environment.

Needless to say, our Ecocert certification does not permit us to use it in Biobel products, and we never would use it. You can always rely on Biobel!

5. Synthetic fragrances.

We cannot end this short list (unfortunately there are many more toxic substances we could discuss) without mentioning synthetic fragrances.

Synthetic fragrances not only contain aromatic molecules derived from petroleum (whose production is by no means clean for the environment), but in addition the classification ‘aroma’ includes thousands of substances, many of which are endocrine disruptors, and manufacturers are not obliged to provide consumers with information about them (we do, even though we are not obliged to by law).

Today we are going to focus on the one of the toxic substances that is concealed beneath the word ‘parfum’: phthalates.

These ingredients are present in plastic, paints, cleaning products and cosmetics, and give products a long-lasting aroma, a characteristic widely sought-after by consumers.

A detergent’s aroma lasts for days and days, and you can open the wardrobe a week later and still smell your detergent’s perfume. This is thanks to it being made with phthalates: endocrine disruptors that affect our hormones and thyroids, lower fertility rate, encourage obesity and insulin resistance (diabetes, is the latest illness found to be caused by these toxins), and the also give rise to immunological alterations, asthma, prostate cancer, congenital genital disorders…

Indeed, the European Union is deeply concerned about these widespread toxins, ones we all have in our blood (96% of the individuals studied), as has been demonstrated by the European Union’s Democophes biomonitoring study. This study was undertaken simultaneously across the European Union, and it found worrying data concerning the levels of metabolites of phthalates found in samples of the Spanish population; in particular, the level of these toxins found in Spanish boys and girls is six times higher than the average across the European Union.

All these toxins, and many other we have not discussed yet, are in products we use on a daily basis to clean our homes, which leads to ever-higher levels of toxicity in our families and thus weakens our immune systems.

So, does it not make more sense for you to clean your home with healthy products?

With our Biobel range, we focus on creating products that are not only healthy for your family, but also contribute to an environment worthy of being inherited by our children.